April 6, 2023
By Ahmed Saeed
Punjab police arrested lawyer and member of Punjab Bar Council Rana Asif in the wee hours of April 6 from the chamber of senior lawyer Shafqat Chohan.
Asif was sentenced to three months imprisonment under contempt of court charges by the senior puisne judge of the Lahore High Court Justice Malik Shahzad on December 2, 2022.
On December 2, Asif had a heated exchange with the judge over the non-wearing of a gown inside the courtroom which led to his conviction.
After the conviction, a crowd of lawyers entered the courtroom and helped Asif escape from the high court premises to evade arrest.
Since then, Asif has been at large and has continued to evade arrest.
Following the conflict, an intra-court appeal was to be filed in the High Court against the decision of Rana Asif’s sentence, but a two-member bench objected to it and asserted that Rana Asif should hand himself over to the police before filing the appeal.
However, lawyers have raised precedence where courts have granted relief to those found in contempt without surrendering to the police.
The Supreme Court also upheld the LHC decision and asked the lawyer to surrender before the law to get any relief from the superior judiciary.
Bar’s Reaction to Arrest
Lawyers’ bodies have strongly condemned the arrest of Rana Asif and termed it as an intimidation tactic against the legal fraternity. They demanded an early release of the arrested lawyer.
Lahore Bar Association has announced a completed strike of court proceedings on April 07 to protest against the arrest.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) convened an emergency meeting to condemn the arrest and devise a future strategy to agitate on the issue.
Addressing the meeting LHCBA president Ishtiaq Ahmed urged the court to hear the appeal filed by Rana Asif by 5 pm today (April 6) and decide the matter.
“If the courts can be opened at night for the politicians to give them relief, why can’t be opened for us,” Ahmed said.
He announced that if the court fails to hear their appeal by 5 pm today then there will be a complete strike in the high court on April 6 and lawyers will lock down all the courtrooms.